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Jerod Ringwald

Iowa center Tyler Linderbaum surveys the field during a football game between No. 18 Iowa and No. 17 Indiana at Kinnick Stadium on Saturday, Sept. 4, 2021. The Hawkeyes defeated the Hoosiers 34-6.

Protecting the passer

If Iowa’s going to win the 2021 Big Ten Championship Game, the Hawkeyes’ offensive line will need to build an impenetrable fortress around junior quarterback Spencer Petras.

Iowa’s offensive line has struggled to protect its quarterback when they drop back to pass all year. The Hawkeyes’ offensive line has surrendered the second-most sacks in the Big Ten Conference this season. The 31 sacks Iowa has given up in 2021 rank 13th in the 14-team Big Ten.

Michigan’s pass rush ranks third in the league this year with 33 sacks.

The Wolverines’ defensive line features the Big Ten’s top two pass rushers. Senior Aidan Hutchinson has sacked opposing quarterbacks on 13 occasions this season, and junior David Ojabo has produced 11 sacks.

Iowa does have the horses on its offensive line to block Ojabo and Hutchinson — the Hawkeyes will just have to get creative.

Hawkeye center Tyler Linderbaum might be the best offensive lineman in the country this season and veteran guard Kyler Schott has also proven to be solid all year long.

If the Hawkeyes can find a way to flex Linderbaum and Schott outside to help struggling tackles Nick DeJong and Jack Plumb run block, Iowa might have a chance to beat mighty Michigan. It wouldn’t hurt Iowa to put an extra offensive lineman in the game on pass plays too.

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